Most national polls show Democrats set to utterly crush Republicans at almost every level of governance in November. Polls show Joe Biden is a clear favorite for the Presidency, Democrats lead in key Senate contests and by all rights Joe Biden is far more popular than Hillary Clinton was at this stage of the race in 2016. Yet, for all Trump’s blunders, the polls and a national environment which should favor good ole Joe it seems voters have not gotten the memo.
Some early voting statistics should alarm Democrats – because polls showed Clinton was a clear favorite in 2016 as well. In Michigan, where Joe Biden has over a 7 point lead in the RCP polling average, mail – in ballots show an equal number of Republicans and Democrats have submitted ballots. In Wisconsin, where Biden enjoys a six point edge the parties are almost dead even with Democrats at 40 percent and Republicans at 38. In Ohio, where Biden’s lead is much narrower in the average, Republicans are actually ahead 45 percent to 43 percent. This is at time when the President has assailed mail in voting, thought he has done so on the grounds of voter fraud.
It’s not all good news. In North Carolina and Florida, Democrats enjoy a massive early absentee ballot edge. This is not uncommon though as Republicans usually close the gap when early in – person voting begins. In Florida, even Democratic strategists have warned a massive wave of GOP votes is coming (and oh yes, shockingly, the polls in Florida are tightening).
As mentioned in a prior article, the horse race narrative also does not fit the mold of a Democratic wave election. For example, “Since 2016, Democrats have lost (not gained, net lost) 41,924 voters in the state. Republicans, in contrast, have gained 158,445 voters. That means Republicans have gained 200K voters in the state. These numbers follow earlier number pre-COVID numbers back in March the GOP was gaining on Democrats in Colorado and Iowa before Democrats called it quits on in-person voter registration canvassing. In North Carolina, Republicans added a net 83,785 voters between this March’s presidential primary and the final week of September, while Democrats added 38,137 and other voters jumped 100,256. During the same period in 2016, Republicans added 54,157 registrants, Democrats added 38,931 and others 140,868.
New registrations are usually a sign of party excitement and strength and while polls which once showed Republicans more excited to vote even as Trump trailed have waned, the voter registration data indicates that excitement has not ebbed.
Perhaps even more telling, for months the news cycle has been dominated by events the President cannot control. But, now, it is dominated by headlines damaging to Joe Biden relating to his son selling influence for millions of dollars in contracts to Russia and Ukraine. Is this the October surprise everybody was talking about? Will this take down the Joe is one of us persona he has used to peel away some of Trump’s support in working class areas?
It is way to early to be able to answer any of these questions of course. But, it does give the Trump campaign some breathing room as it finally is able to reorientate itself for the final stretch. Further, while the Biden campaign is hauling in massive sums of dough, $384 million in September alone (party of the little guy/gal for sure) and some of their Senate nominees are pulling in three digit millions (Jaime Harrison – SC), Republicans have gotten some good news on the money front with megadonor Sheldon Adelson shelling out $75 million to pro Trump Super PAC’s.
Despite the money woes the Trump campaign has its campaign always relied fairly heavily on digital and radio ads (much cheaper than TV). Plus, research has shown raising tons of money is great and all but at some point, you hit the point of diminishing returns with how you spend it. The Biden camp continues to spit out ads which dominate TV waves but are voters really still listening anymore?
The upshot is this – the early voting signs do not indicate a Democratic wave. Polls in many states (NC, FL, the Midwest) are similar to 2016. There are key differences like Biden being better liked than Clinton and traditionally red states like AZ, and IA and OH being in play, but the map is not looking as tilted as a wave would suggest. Ben Sasse and Senate Republicans can freak out about a pending Democratic wave, but those are predictions and probably based more on their actions than the President’s. For Trump and Republicans, that might be the best news they have gotten this much so far.